Rose Davis is sentenced to a life of slavery, 1715

Rose Davis is sentenced to a life of slavery, 1715

Rose Davis was born to an indentured servant white woman and a Black man. Slave law claimed that children inherited the status of their mother, a law which enabled enslavers to control the reproductive functions of their enslaved women laborers. However, as race increasingly became a marker of slavery, even the children of free white women could be vulnerable to enslavement. Rose had been working as an indentured servant when she petitioned the court for her freedom. Instead, she was sentenced to a lifetime of slavery.

August 1715

On the petition of Rose the mulatto daughter of Mary Davis of the province of Maryland against Mr. Henry Darnall about her freedom &c. It is ordered that notice be given Mr. William Diggs, attorney for the said Mr. Henry Darnall that the second Tuesday of November next.

8 November 1715

Rose a mulatto petition against Henry Darnall about her freedom consideration referred until next Court.

13 March 1715/6

Petition of Rose the mulatto daughter of Mary Davis of the province of Maryland now a servant of Mr. Henry Darnall of the County aforesaid. Hereby showeth that your petitioner being a Baptized mulatto descended by the mother of Christian race as appears from the evidence of her said mother on the other said handscribed the original whereafter she is ready to provide as well as other testimonies if need be to confirm the same and being arrived to the age of thirty one years the 11 August 1715 at in time she supposes the servitude imposed in such unhappy issue expires. She therefore humbly prays the benefit by Law allowed to those in her unhappy circumstances and that she may accordingly receive a free manumission from the said servitude which hanscribed evidence mentioned in the petition follows in the words vizt.

I Mary Davis the daughter of Richard Davis now dwelling in Mark Lane in the City of London in England where I was born and there now have dwelling a brother called John Davis, do give this Bible unto my son Thomas begotten in wedlock on my body by a negro called Dominggoe once a servant to Joseph Tilley of Hunting Creek in Calvert County where I was married to him the said negroe but now we both are dwelling with the right honorable the proprietor of this province of Maryland and my before said son Thomas was born on a plantation of my lords in Lyons Creek in Calvert County on the 14th day of March 1677 and was baptized by Mr. Wessley in the house of Mr. Richard. Massoms and James Thompson was godfather and Ann his wife was godmother. That is here inserted to satisfy any whom it may concern that my said son Thomas came from a Christian race by his mother and I the said Mary Davis above mentioned and named have also a Daughter by the same negro my husband aforesaid whose name is Rose. She was born in St. Maries County on a plantation called the Top of the Hill on the 11 August 1684 and baptized at Nottley Hall by Mr. Richard. Hebert Priest and Mr. Henry Wharton was the godfather and Rose Hebert now the wife of Thomas Nation was the godmother. That is above inserted that you may know she my said Daughter came of the Christian race by her mother a true copy take out of the aforesaid Bible. 

Signed Mary Davis.

Given by said Mary to her son Thomas now in the possession and custody of the said Rose.

Court resolving to proceed this day 8 November 1715

Next Court: Mature deliberation … It is thereupon considered by the Justices that the said Rose the mulatto and person aforesaid serve during life as a slave and that her master Mr. Henry Darnall pay fees.

“Rose Davis against Henry Darnall, August 1715,” Anne Arundel County Court (Judgment Record) 08/1712—03/1715, Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland,

Available from the American Society of Genealogists.